November Poem--George Herbert--Time


George Herbert is one of the greatest poets with explicitly Christian themes. His works are still vibrant and meaningful today, and nearly everyone has already encountered him either in "The Temple" or in "Easter Wings," two of the most widely anothologized poems in the English language.

Note: the word "sithe" below is not the usual "sith" or "since" as context conveys, but an archaic spelling of scythe.

George Herbert

Meeting with Time, slack thing, said I,
Thy sithe is dull; whet it for shame.
No marvell Sir, he did replie,
If it at length deserve some blame:
But where one man would have me grinde it,
Twentie for one too sharp do finde it.

Perhaps some such of old did passe,
Who above all things lovíd this life:
To whom thy sithe a hatchet was,
Which now is but a pruning knife.
Christs coming hath made man thy debter,
Since by thy cutting he grows better.

And in his blessing thou art blest:
For where thou onely wert before
An executioner at best;
Thou art a gardíner now, and more,
An usher to convey our souls
Beyond the utmost starres and poles.

And this is that makes life so long,
While it detains us from our God.
Evín pleasures here increase the wrong,
And length of dayes lengthen the rod.
Who wants the place, where God doth dwell,
Partakes already half of hell.

Of what strange length must that needs be,
Which evín eternitie excludes!
Thus farre Time heard me patiently:
Then chafing said, This man deludes:
What do I here before his doore?
He doth not crave lesse time, but more.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 17, 2003 7:46 AM.

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